Rest, relaxation and raving at sea
Because the idea of “wellness” travel often involves experiences in nature, Gyeongnam Tourism Organization decided to highlight places all across South Gyeongsang by creating a wellness cluster of eight different cities and counties including Namhae County, Goseong County, Tongyeong County, Hapcheon County, Sancheong County and Geoje city. While the ones inland, such as Hapcheon and Sancheong focus more on oriental herbal medicine and programs using such herbs, those alongside the coastline like Tongyeong, Goseong and Namhae are offering experiences and activities that revolve around the water. These experiences are aimed at opening visitors eyes to new habits they can form and make use of in their daily lives. The programs often show how certain elements of wellness tourism can be brought home.
The following are just some of the experiences you can try out on vacation and hopefully bring elements back to your daily life.
A walk on the wildside
Baraegil Road, a walking trail which has offered some respite to people living in and visiting Namhae over the past 10 years, was renovated and reopened last year. The trail mostly follows alongside the coastline overlooking the waves breaking in the sea and takes travelers to every nook and cranny of the island, which earned the nickname “flower field” about 500 years ago thanks to its colorful landscape.
Barae in the region’s dialect means the work done by mothers of Namhae, which was usually collecting seafood at low tide. The trails they took to collect the seafood used to be called baraegil.
The total length of the trail is 231 kilometers (143 miles) with 16 main courses alongside three additional courses, some of which are not directly connected to the main trails. One of the recommended courses in the spring is Course 4 which features curving trails between fields filled with gosari, also known as bracken. It is about 15 kilometers long and usually takes six hours and 30 minutes to walk.
Because the gosari has not yet bloomed, the fields look like they are on fire with the remaining red stems from the season before. Rainy days give the fields a mystical appearance.
Until June, during the period many go to dig up the gosari, travelers must make a reservation to walk the trail. To keep people from harvesting the plants, staff will accompany those who want to walk and see the scenery four days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. A maximum of 40 people can make reservations to walk the trail until April 30. In May and June, the capacity will be expanded to 120 people a day. Since gosari fields are the workplace of locals, gathering gosari without permission during you walk is prohibited, and those who get caught will be asked to leave.
Shoes not necessary
At Napory Farm in Tongyeong, shoes are forbidden.
The farm located in a cypress forest on Mount Mireuk is designed for a barefoot experience. The entire area has been covered with sawdust made from the trees, which the farm’s manager replenishes daily.
When you first arrive at the farm you will see a small house-like building which looks like a cozy lodge in the forest. The structure acts as a point of reference for the winding trail. There are many flowering trees along the trail, which also provide good opportunities for photos. Red camellias were in bloom early March, which will soon be taken over by plum flowers and cherry blossoms.
After some walking, you will reach an area with yoga mats where you can lie down, focus on your breathing and take a quick nap. There are also hammocks to lie in the forest. Domes made of clear plastic are filled with the smell of cypress to allow visitors to relax their senses.Basins filled with warm water and a few drops of cypress tree oil allow for one final moment to relax as you wash your feet clean of sawdust.
Tours of Napory Farm cost 13,000 won ($11) per person and 10,000 won for children under 13. Go to www.naporyair.com for more information and to make a reservation. Soaps and cosmetic items are also available to buy both at the farm and online.
Get dancing on deck to upbeat K-pop music by BTS or Blackpink by taking a yacht trip. The sailing experience offers avid club goers who are missing out during the pandemic a chance to dance with the sea breeze in their hair. Different from yachting in the busier city of Busan, sailing in Tongyeong is a more private experience. Go to www.hansanmarina2.co.kr, for more information.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]